Culina looks to the future

Head Coach Branko Culina has placed all of his focus on the upcoming away matches against Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory.

A mass of injuries has not helped the Jets- cause in the lead-up to this year-s Hyundai A-League Finals Series, but coach Branko Culina is not using that as an excuse.

With a dozen players currently out of action, last Saturday-s loss away to fourth-placed Gold Coast United was perhaps understandable.

However, the Newcastle boss is adamant that all sights must be fixed on the future.

“Any game that you play you want to win, and anything other than that is always disappointment.”

“I think we-ve just got to put that aside and focus on the two games coming up away from home; Wellington on Sunday and Melbourne Victory the following Wednesday,” stated Culina.

One player to have already returned from a stint on the sidelines is New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie, and regular left-back Adam D-Apuzzo is also in the frame for the trip across the Tasman.

But Culina was cautious after Monday morning-s training session when asked about the 24-year-old-s impending return from ankle ligament damage.

“At this stage we don-t know,” he said. “He-s only had a light run today, but let-s see how he goes over the next few days.”

Meanwhile, the ‘Cake Tin- has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for the Jets in the past.

Indeed, the Wellington venue was the scene for Newcastle-s departure out of last season-s Hyundai A-League Finals Series, as Paul Ifill inspired the Phoenix to a dramatic 3-1 extra-time victory.

Culina, though, believes his charges will have a positive attitude as they come up against a potentially wearied New Zealand outfit.

“Wellington will be under the microscope,” Culina said. “They play on Wednesday against Brisbane which will be a tough game for them.”

“Then they-ve got to face us, and they-ve got to beat us if they want to make the top six.”

“It-s not really a place that we-ve had joy in the past, but there-s no reason why we can-t have some joy this time,” he concluded.